Spring has arrived and with it we can feel the change of seasonal energy. The days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer, thank goodness! According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), spring is a time of upward and expansive movement of energy, of creativity, of planning and change. Nature expresses this in the new growth in the garden, the buds and blossoms on the trees and the first blooms of spring.
In Chinese medicine we aim to keep healthy by aligning ourselves, including our behaviours, actions and attitudes with the seasons. While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings and a renewal of spirit. As such, it is a great time to ditch some bad habits and/or implement some healthy changes.
Spring is the ideal time for cleansing the body and rejuvenating overall health and wellbeing. The organs associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder, organs often targeted for a spring detox and cleansing. The liver in Chinese medicine is responsible for the free flow of qi (or energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So for optimal health in spring, we can focus on the liver.
Spring gives us the perfect opportunity to give up stimulants such as sugar, caffeine, tobacco and recreational drugs as the expansive, stimulating energy of spring gives a natural boost. We can also take advantage of this natural boost of energy to exercise moderately on a daily basis (the warmer weather helps too!), making us feel alive and refreshed after a long and wet winter.
According to TCM, the liver controls the tendons and stores blood during times of rest and releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining flexibility and tendon health. Yoga or Tai Chi are great ways to introduce stretching into your life, or simply implement a morning stretch into your routine.
Eat more greens. While this advice applies year round for those trying to clean up their diet, it is particularly important in spring. Green is the colour associated with the liver and spring. Eating young plants, leafy greens and sprouts can improve the state of the liver and aid in the movement of qi.
Do more outside activities. Fresh, outdoor air helps the liver qi flow. If you are feeling stressed, grumpy or irritable, try getting outside to get the qi flowing. Go for a walk, a bike ride, or throw yourself into some gardening to sooth that liver qi.
Get acupuncture. Acupuncture can be great if you are feeling a bit stuck or low from winter. Acupuncture can unblock any blockages that have accumulated over winter to help get the mind and body moving again. Spring is a great time to work on old aches, pains and issues. Spring is also a great time to see a naturopath to fine tune your health, work on your diet or start a detox.
Living in accordance with the seasons can benefit your health in many ways. The wisdom of TCM dates back thousands of years but is just as relevant today as ever. I hope that these tips help you to navigate the change of season in good health.
Sally has a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Health Science in Eastern Massage therapy (Shiatsu and Tuina) from the Canberra Institute of Technology.